The high school baseball season can be very short in the Midwest, so some schools will go to any lengths possible to get in extra games — even if it means playing at 3 a.m.
That’s what Middleton (Wis.) High School and D.C. Everest High School did last Thursday morning. The two Wisconsin schools both made the trip to Minneapolis to scrimmage at the Metrodome, the former home of the Minnesota Twins. While the Dome is no longer used for Major League Baseball, it still hosts plenty of colleges and high schools that need indoor facilities throughout the year.
Because of the busy schedule at the Dome, Middleton and D.C. Everest didn’t take the field until the wee hours of 3 a.m.
“At first everybody was like, ‘Whoa, 3 o’clock in the morning?'” said Tom Schmitt, who coaches in the Madison suburb of Middleton. “But we adjusted our schedule and the kids had fun getting up and doing it.”
Schmitt originally booked the Dome for his team to play a game, since a snowy winter has forced Middleton to already cancel a few early games and has left the players practicing in gymnasiums instead of outdoors. When D.C. Everest head coach Dave Langbehn responded to a posting by Schmitt looking for an opponent, the late night/early morning game was set.
Langbehn’s team, based in the small Wisconsin town of Weston, has had similar issues of being unable to practice outdoors and saw this as a great opportunity to get in some extra work — despite the three-hour drive to Minneapolis.
“When he told me about it, I said, ‘Well that sounds interesting, maybe break up your spring break,'” said D.C. Everest athletic director Leeann Kitchell. “It looks like a genius move because that was the only time they were getting to practice pitching and pop flies and outfield stuff until probably April 20 around here.”
Schmitt said his team got to the Twin Cities around 4 p.m. in the afternoon and took some time to watch the University of Minnesota play South Dakota State at the Dome. The Gophers game began at 6:30 p.m. — more than eight hours before Middelton and D.C. Everest were set to face off.
Both teams also took in the sites in the Minneapolis area, with a trip to the Mall of America on both agendas. Schmitt’s team also got a tour of Target Field, the 4-year-old ballpark that is the new home of the Twins.
Then it was early to bed on Wednesday night — between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. — to prepare for the 1:30 a.m. wakeup call.
“It was something we had to adjust to, but it was a way for us to get three hours of baseball in on the field rather than being in the gymnasium,” said Schmitt. “They had second thoughts about it at first, I guess, but once they did it they didn’t have any problem with it. … I think it’s just one of those things that you adapt and understand that Wisconsin weather can throw you a curveball and you do what you can do.”
In this case, a 3 a.m. game was the only option.
“The kids will definitely remember it because not only was it the Metrodome, but because it was in the middle of the night,” said Kitchell. “They won’t remember any of their conference scores throughout the entire season, but they’re going to remember that trip.”